Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
So goes the last line from William Butler Yeats' poem: 'Aedh wishes for the cloths of heaven'. It's a quotation that would be well placed on the wall of many a book publisher's office.
There are multiple reasons for submitting a book to a book publisher, not least of them the commercial motive to make money. A book can be written cynically with an eye to the latest market fashion; it can be a carefully disguised rip-off; it can be the next one in a series which caught the wind and yet which now no longer gives the author any creative satisfaction.
However at least a proportion of books, non-fiction as well as fiction, represent the cherished culmination of a process which has absorbed the author body and soul; into which they have poured their life's blood; which are more truly their children than their physical progeny.
Such dedication, verging on self-sacrifice, belongs to extreme cases. But between such cases and the cynical 'toss-off', there lies a vast field in which the author to a greater or lesser extent has put themselves into their work, investing in a dream which has now passed out of their hands into the hands of a book publisher.
Of course these days a writer can produce an electronic version of their work and go straight to a distributor, to try their chances in an extremely over-stocked and cruel world. That, of course, is their choice. But if they pass their work to a professional book publisher, this is the point at which I would wish to see the Yeats injunction exercised.
Naturally a book publisher is entitled to have a reaction to a book and it may be a severely negative one, regardless of whether the point of view is personal or commercial. But a book publisher is not 'the man in the street', or even a journalist or critic. He or she, as the writer's gateway to the wider world, should treat the creator of the rejected work with more gentleness and no less courtesy than the author whose work he or she is falling over themselves to accept. Likewise, having accepted a book, any desirable modifications need to be approached with sensitivity and respect.
In a world where the book market is choked with a glut of manuscripts, it's easy for the book publisher to regard inferior writings as so much cannon fodder. But they never know; maybe one of the books they pass over will prove to be a gem, and the famous author will not speak kindly of someone who tramped with hobnailed boots all over their dreams.
Atul is author of countless articles on a myriad of different topics. He represents Any Subject Books, a book publisher company that offers authors the full range of modern publication, promotion and other ancillary services.
Book Publisher As The Writer's Gateway To The World